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Sales & Marketing

31 Posts authored by: Rieva Lesonsky

How can a brick-and-mortar retailer convince e-commerce shoppers to get off their couches and into the store?

 

Even if you sell online as well as in-store, there are compelling reasons for cultivating in-store shoppers. Some 71 percent of shoppers spend $50 or more when visiting a brick-and-mortar store; just 54 percent do so when shopping online.

 

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And shoppers in physical stores buy more than the original item they intended to buy 75 percent of the time. In other words, in-store shoppers are highly profitable.

 

Getting e-commerce shoppers in your door is easier than you may think. Even though they make some purchases online, nearly 80 percent of consumers still shop primarily in brick-and-mortar stores. All they need is a little nudge.

 

Here’s how to deliver these customers to your store.

 

Use email and text message marketing. Direct messaging can be very effective at driving customers to a physical store. According to a report by Sailthru, 22 percent of consumers aged 35 to 44 have redeemed an emailed discount in a physical store; almost 40 percent of 18- t024-years-olds have visited a store to buy something promoted via push notification. Use data from customers’ past purchases to craft targeted messages and offers to entice them to your door.

 

Boost your presence online. Optimize your website for local search by ensuring your store’s listings in local search directories are up-to-date and complete. They should include your name, address, hours, phone number, images of your store and a link to your website; the description of your store should include relevant keywords. Since Google has become the primary place consumers look for reviews, encourage your customers to review your store on Google so people see a positive rating when your site pops up on Google.

 

Stay active on social media. A strong social media presence will boost awareness of your physical store. Use paid social media advertising to target shoppers who fit your customer profile and live near your store. You can also work with local social media influencers to publicize your store by inviting them to events or involving them in promotions.

 

Use your website to promote your store. Even if you sell products online, use your website to drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar store. Include photos of your store interior and displays, along with your address and a map, so people realize there’s a physical location to visit. Highlight the benefits of visiting your store, such as being able to test products or attend live events. You could even spotlight your newest products on your website but offer them for sale only in-store for the first week.

 

Hold offline-only promotions. Create different discounts and offers for your online and offline shoppers. For example, you could give shoppers who order online a code for a discount that’s good only in-store. Hold a flash sale in-store only or offer free gifts with purchase only to shoppers at your store.

 

Connect the online and in-store purchasing process. For example, offer the option to order products online and pick them up in store, and allow shoppers to return online purchases at your store. In both situations, shoppers typically do more than just pick up or return a product—they’ll browse and spend some extra money, too.

 

Use Google Shopping Ads. Since 87 percent of shoppers start their search for products online, grabbing their attention online can get them in your door. If a shopper sees you have the shoes they want in the size they want, they’re likely to buy from you rather than wait for online delivery: 73 percent of people who visit a physical store do so to get a product right away.  You can use Google AdWords campaigns to target people searching for products you sell or, even better, set up Google Shopping Ads to display a product photo, price, your store name and more. You’ll need a Google Merchant Center account and a Google AdWords account to get started. Learn more about Google Shopping Ads.

 

Driving e-commerce customers to your brick-and-mortar store strengthens your retail brand and gives you the best of both worlds.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

As a small business owner, you want to make sure your business is as profitable as possible. But higher profit margins don’t just happen. Instead of hoping for good fortune to bring you more profit, make these smart moves to keep more of the money your business makes.

 

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1. Know your profit margins. “What gets measured, gets managed” is a business truism. Knowing what your margins are is essential to improving them and will allow you to accurately calculate how taking actions such as raising prices will affect your margins.

 

2. Look for places to cut costs. Focus on costs that don’t add value for your customers. Start by looking for wasted money, such as memberships to groups you no longer attend or excessive spending on office supplies. Cutting even small unnecessary costs over time can make a big difference.

 

3. Raise prices. It’s the easiest and fastest way to boost profits. You’d be surprised at the difference a price increase of 10 percent, 5 percent or even 3 percent can make to your margins—and most customers won’t even notice.

 

4. Streamline your payment processing and invoicing. Invoicing customers as soon as possible avoids payment delays so you get your money faster and it can work harder for you.

 

5. Negotiate with your vendors. Can you get lower prices from your vendors—perhaps by paying early or paying in cash? Finding a win-win arrangement with vendors can mean more dollars in your pocket.

 

6. Reassess insurance costs. Shop around for health insurance, business insurance and vehicle insurance. See if increasing your deductible or adjusting your coverage will reduce your premiums.

 

7. Consider relocating your business. Can you move to a more affordable location? Could you run your business from home and have your employees work remotely?

 

8. Reduce excess inventory. The cost of carrying inventory that’s past its prime can eat up your profits. Consider selling it to liquidators or posting it on sites like eBay.

 

9. Track the cost of customer acquisition and work to reduce it. Monitor the results of your marketing and advertising activities so you can focus on those that deliver the most bang for your buck.

 

10. Identify high-value customers and focus on them. Use customer relationship management (CRM) or customer loyalty software to pinpoint which customers spend the most with your business. Give them the VIP treatment and see if you can get them to spend even more.

 

11. Get existing customers to buy more and more often. Acquiring new customers is more costly and time-consuming than convincing existing customers to buy from you again. Develop a marketing campaign to turn first-time buyers into loyal customers.

 

12. Narrow your target customer focus. If you try to be everything to everyone, your business will lack an identity. Instead, laser-focus on your ideal target customer and how to deliver value to them. You may have fewer customers, but you’ll sell more to those you have.

 

13. Upsell and cross-sell. Don’t stop with closing the sale. Offer related products or services, warranties, service contracts and other value-adds that increase your profits.

 

14. Set up automatic re-ordering or subscription options for customers. If you can make buying more convenient for consumers, they are more likely to become loyal customers.

 

15. Spend your time where it matters. As a small business owner, your time is valuable. Focus your efforts on profit-generating activities, not on managing minutiae.

 

16. Look for places to automate your business. For example, using marketing automation software to respond to leads or a virtual assistant to schedule meetings can free up time for you and your team have more time to focus on profit-generating work.

 

17. When an employee quits, don’t fill the position right away. See if you can automate the work or distribute it among remaining staff members.

 

Increasing your profitability is a never-ending battle. Stay on top of your business’s cash flowand watch your profit margins closely. Then you’ll be able to spot new opportunities to bring home even more profit.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Is there any element of business ownership changing faster than marketing? Keeping up with marketing trends can feel overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be if you focus on the basics.

 

Here are seven brand and marketing resolutions every small business owner should make – no matter the time of year.

 

Resolution 1: “I will develop a marketing plan.”

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A shotgun approach to marketing—a couple of Facebook ads here, some blog posts there—won’t get you far. With so many options for how to market your business, making the most of your precious marketing budget requires a strategic approach and a well-thought-out marketing plan.

 

 

Download themarketing plan guidefrom SCORE.

 

Resolution 2: “I will maximize my online presence.”

 

Your business website is just one element of your business’s overall online presence. That presence also includes local search directories, social media accounts, ratings and review sites, and online advertising. Make sure your website looks modern, loads fast and is optimized for SEO and mobile use. (You can test your mobile site’s speed here.) Keep your listings on directories up to date. Monitor ratings and reviews to respond quickly to any negative feedback.

 

  • Tip: A strong social media presence on one site is better than a half-hearted presence on all of them.

 

Check out our Small Business Owner’s Guide to Social Media.

 

Resolution 3: “I will listen to my customers.”

 

There’s no excuse for not knowing what your customers are thinking. Use “social listening” tools such as Reputology, Mention, ReviewTrackers or Hootsuite to pay attention to what people are saying online about your business. Review your website analytics and social media analytics to see where your customers are coming from and how they engage with you. Conduct surveys by email or online—tools such as SurveyMonkey make this simple to do.

 

  • Tip: Don’t forget the power of actually talking to your customers face-to-face to see what’s on their minds.

 

Read more from Rieva on why listening to social media can grow your business.

 

Resolution 4: “I will nurture my email list.”

 

Ignore email at your peril: It remains the single most effective marketing method for small businesses, generating higher ROI than any other marketing channel for 10 years running. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of consumers prefer to get promotional messages via email.

 

  • Tip: Use every opportunity to expand your email list—ask customers to sign up at the point of purchase, on your website home page, on social media or in person. Then use email segmentation and automation tools to deliver personalized messages tailored for each customer’s interests.

 

Learn more about cleaning up your e-mail marketing list.

 

Resolution 5: “I will cultivate customer loyalty.”

 

Are you so focused on getting new customers that you’re ignoring the potential of those you already have? Getting existing customers to buy more is easier (and more cost-effective) than convincing prospective customers to give you a try. Use customer data to pinpoint your most valuable customers based on customer lifetime value.

 

  • Tip: Implement loyalty programs to target your most valuable customers with personalized offers and sell more to them.

 

Learn my 7 best email marketing ideas to build customer loyalty.

 

Resolution 6: “I will explore online video.”

 

Shoppers are “64 percent more likely to buy a product online after watching a video ad and 80 percent more likely to purchase when a landing page includes a video,” according to AdRoll president Scott Gifis. Explainer videos, how-to videos, product demonstrations and testimonials are the four most popular types of videos used by businesses—one or more of these should work for yours.

 

  • Tip: Ask your employees to help. One or more may be handy with video and have some great ideas to creatively showcase your offerings.

 

How to use Compelling Video On Social Media for your Small Business

 

Resolution 7: “I will protect my customers’ personal data.”

 

A data breach costs you more than money—it can also cost you customers. More than one-fifth of consumers in Bank of America Merchant Services; 2018 Small Business Payments Spotlight say they would never again shop at a small business that experienced a breach. When usingcustomers’ personal information for marketing, protect it using cybersecurity best practices such as firewalls, complex passwords and compliance with industry standards.

 

  • Tip: Reassure your customers their personal information is safe when they shop with you. They will appreciate your approach to data security.

 

Visit our Fraud and Privacy Resource Center.

 

Making and keeping these resolutions will help you grow in 2019 but be sure to check back here in the Small Business Community for new marketing trends. Nothing in business is changing as quickly as marketing these days.

 

Did I miss any resolutions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

The demise of retail has been greatly exaggerated, as the 2018 holiday shopping season proves: 2018 holiday sales soar to 6-year high.

 

Overall, in 2018 physical retail stores enjoyed a net gain of over 10,000 locationscompared to 2017. Over half (51 percent) of small business owners now have e-commerce sites, up 7 percentage points from 2017, according to Bank of America’s 2018 Small Business Payments Spotlight.

 

Whether you sell online, in a store, or both, here are six hot retail trends you should know about for 2019.

 

1. Experiential retail

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Why do consumers still go to brick-and-mortar stores when there are so many convenient online options? According to Oracle, shoppers in all demographics cite the same

top two reasons:

 

1) they don’t want to wait for products to be shipped.

 

2) they want to see, touch and try products before they make a purchase. Retail stores have the

potential to offer an experience that makes browsing and shopping fun.

 

Think of ways to make your store a sensory experience with sight, sound, smell and touch. Hold events like fashion shows or pop-up shops.   

 

2. Buy online, pick up in store

 

During the 2018 holiday season, more than 89 million Americans shopped both online and in-store—an increase of almost 40 percent from the previous year, according to the National Retail Federation. “Buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) orders on Thanksgiving and Black Friday were up 73 percent compared to last year.  Shoppers choose BOPIS to get their products faster and/or to save on shipping costs—but the good news for retailers is that 64percent of people who use BOPIS make an additional purchase once they’re in the store.

 

3. Storefront as a service

 

New retail options are springing up to help e-commerce companies stake their claim in the brick-and-mortar world. Storesreports a project called Re: Storeis expected to launch in San Francisco this spring, offering combined work/retail space for e-commerce companies. Popular co-working space provider WeWork launched its first WeMrkt shop in mid-2018 to sell products to people who work in WeWork’s spaces.

 

4. Artificial Intelligence (AI) /Chatbots

 

According to a survey from BRP Consulting, just 7 percent of retailers currently use AI capabilities such as digital assistance and chatbots. However, 40 percent plan to implement this technology within the next three years. Chatbots can help retail customers overcome obstacles that might delay or prevent purchases, such as problems with product availability or glitches during the checkout process. Consumers are rapidly accepting chatbots for shopping assistance: 20 percent say they would use chatbots to compare products, 18 percent would like bots to help them discover new products, and 10 percent want bots to help them complete their transaction, according to SUMO Heavy.

 

Read Mari Smith’s article, “Facebook Messenger Chatbots Give Small Business Owners an Edge”

 

5.  Augmented reality

 

Big retailers like IKEA and Gap are using AI technology to create augmented reality (AR) apps shoppers can use to “virtually” try on clothing or see how furniture will look in their homes. (Learn more here: how 10 retailers are using augmented reality.) By 2025, some experts predict augmented realitywill drive $1.6 billion in retail sales annually. Will 2019 be the year augmented reality trickles down to small retailers? With DIY tools like Blippbuilderand Appy Pieto help you create an AR app, the answer is likely “Yes.”

 

6. Transparency/Social responsibility

 

In 2019 consumers will pay attention to retailers’ environmental and socially-responsible activities when deciding where to shop. According to a recent GlobalData survey, 71 percent of consumers consider the environmental impact of products they buy at grocery stores, and 64 percent do the same when shopping for clothing and footwear. How does your retail business demonstrate its commitment to making the world a better place? From environmental sustainability practices to how you treat suppliers, contractors and employees, being transparent about your retail business’s mission, vision and policies will help you attract and keep customers.

 

All told, 2019 looks to be an exciting time for retailers.

 

What trends are you planning to incorporate into your business this year?

Tell us in the comments below.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Black Friday is always crazy—both for consumers and retailers—and this year promises to be even wilder than usual. According to a survey by Natural Insight, 20% of consumers plan to do most of their holiday shopping on Black Friday, up from 15% last year. Whether you own a brick-and-mortar store, an e-commerce site or both, advance preparation is vital. Follow these “12 steps to Black Friday success” to ensure you’re ready. 

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1. Review last year’s data. What kinds of products were hot sellers? What times of day were busiest? What marketing and advertising campaigns worked best? How well did you manage inventory?

 

2. Research. What’s trending in your industry? What “must-have” products are your customers clamoring for? Combining your research and sales projections with last year’s figures will enable you to make educated estimates this year.

 

3. Determine what products to promote. Focusing on those that are hard to find or unique to your store will help you attract more customers.

 

4. Staff up. Make sure you’re adequately staffed during the times of day you expect the most customers. If you’re hiring seasonal workers, get moving: The National Retail Federation projects retailers will hire between 585,000 and 650,000 temporary workers this year, and competition is stiff.

 

 

5. Prepare your people. You’ll need time to train those temps—and your regular salespeople—to provide stellar service. Your staff’s product knowledge, helpfulness and demeanor can make or break the sale at holiday time.

 

6. Test your tech.

    1. If you sell online, run a speed test to make sure your site loads quickly and a stress test to ensure it can handle at least double your normal traffic.
    2. Secure your website against cyberattacks and build customer trust by using trust seals from your SSL certificate provider to indicate site security.
    3. Test your website navigation and checkout processes for ease of use on both desktop and mobile devices: Holiday shopping will be more mobile-driven this year, eMarketer Retail predicts.
    4. Make sure your in-store point-of-sale system is running smoothly and accepts multiple forms of payment. Younger consumers are embracing mobile payment solutions. 

 

7. Embrace holiday décor. Enjoying holiday decorations is one of the top reasons consumers shop in-store instead of online, according to Natural Insight. Create a festive atmosphere with holiday décor, music and scents. Get creative with color: Bold, icy shades of pink, purple and green will be cool alternatives to plain old red, white and green this year, says Frontier Label.

 

8. Check your local directory listings. If you own a brick-and-mortar store, make sure the information in your local search listings (such as Google My Business and Yelp) is current and complete; if you have special holiday hours, add them.

 

 

9. Review your reviews. Do you have enough recent online reviews to convince new customers to shop at your store? If not, start a campaign to encourage reviews from satisfied customers.

 

 

10. Plan your inventory. Inventory management software can help you find the perfect balance between too much inventory (that goes unsold) and too little inventory (that disappoints customers).

 

11. Create your marketing calendar. Build excitement around Black Friday by starting your holiday marketing campaign early. (More than one-fourth of consumers start shopping before Thanksgiving, so it’s not too early to start promoting.) Plan your email marketing messages and cadence, creating different promotions for loyal customers and for new ones. Push to get more email signups before Black Friday.

 

12. Think social. Social media will have a huge influence on holiday sales this year, according to eMarketer, and it’s where SMBs will concentrate most of their ad spending this year, says Reveal Mobile. Plan now for special holiday-themed social media content, contests and promotions. Look for photogenic, fun and unique ideas to encourage social media sharing. You can even start selling products straight from Facebook with the Storefront Social app.

 

By following these steps, you’ll be well-prepared to succeed not just on Black Friday, but during the rest of the holiday shopping season, too.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Are you among the 91 percent of marketers ignoring a massive consumer demographic with trillions of dollars to spend? Unless you’re marketing to baby boomer women, the answer is yes.

 

Baby boomer women (currently aged between 54 and 72), account for more than half of the 78 million baby boomers. The net worth of women aged 50+ is $19 trillion. They’re also poised to inherit even more money from their parents: Boomer women are projected to control two-thirds of all consumer wealth over the next decade.

 

Here’s what boomer women are doing, what they want and how to reach them.

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Embracing technology

 

Tech adoption rates among boomers have soared in recent years. Nearly seven in 10 boomers own smartphones, 52 percent own tablets, and 57 percent use social media. A whopping 94 percent of boomer women shop online.

 

Life transitions

 

Some boomer women are still in the “sandwich generation,” caring for both children and aging parents. Convenience is paramount for this demographic, especially if they work outside the home, and they’ll spend more for products and services that save them precious time.

Other boomer women, with adult children finally out of the nest, have more time and financial resources to devote to themselves. Still others are single for the first time in decades: The divorce rate among adults age 50+has doubled since 1995.

 

Hot products and services for boomer women

 

  • Travel: Regardless of where they go, whom they’re going with, or who’s paying, women make 80 percent of all travel decisions. They’re also more likely to travel solo than men. Consider offering women-only tours where solo female travelers can make new friends; “girlfriend” travel packages for women traveling with friends or daughters; or couples’ packages for empty-nesters revitalizing their relationships.

 

  • Fashion: Nearly seven in 10 boomer women believe the fashion industry ignores them; 82 percent say apparel for women their age is too old-fashioned. Take a cue from the profitability of plus-sized clothing: If you can take the physical changes of age into account and sell clothing that’s good-quality, flattering and current, you’ve got a ready market.

 

  • Health and fitness: Boomer women want to stay active and fit, but they’re not up for hard-core boot camps. Instead, try personal training and low-impact fitness regimens like Pilates, barre and yoga.

 

  • Financial planning: Boomer women need expert guidance for managing they money they control; divorcees need help navigating a new financial reality. Financial planners that cater to women instead of assuming men control the finances will find success.

 

                    Read more: Women and Financial Wellness: Beyond the Bottom Line

 

  • Adult education: Whether finally indulging a passion for watercolor painting, learning Italian or prepping for a late-life career change, boomer women are eager to learn new skills and rediscover old hobbies.

 

Marketing do’s and don’ts

 

Try these tips to market to boomer women.

 

  • Keep it real. Most ads portray boomers either as frail seniors who can’t work a cell phone, or uber-fit triathletes. Avoid these extremes and use realistic images of boomer women in your advertising.
  • When choosing images, keep in mind boomers tend to see themselves as 10 years younger than they are—but not 20 or 30 years younger. Avoid teenagers and 20-somethings as models.
  • Use imagery of boomer women
  • Target peers. Boomer women get their beauty information from friends and family, consumer reviews, and lifestyle and beauty blogs. Use social media and online review sites to spread word-of-mouth about your business.
  • Understand how women buy. According to Marti Barletta, an expert in marketing to women, women tend to have a longer sales cycle and ask more questions about products and services. Provide plenty of details and be patient. Check out more articles about marketing.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

What’s the most effective kind of marketing email you can send? According to Optimove research on more than 1 million email campaigns, birthday emails get the highest response rate compared to other customer communications.

 

“Whether the consumers received coupons, free delivery, a gift or any other incentive as a part of their birthday campaign, they all turned out to be highly effective,” Optimove reports.

 

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One reason birthday emails may be so effective is because customers who receive them have already purchased from the business. According to a report by Belly, 58 percent of people willopen emails from companies they’ve purchased from previously. Since the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent, the added incentive of a birthday offer can easily tip the scales.

 

Of course, birthdays only come once a year — and you’d like your customers to buy from you more often. What other email tactics can you use to turn new customers into repeat customers, and keep your loyal customers coming back? Here are 7 email marketing ideas to build customer loyalty.

 

1. Make them feel welcome. When a customer signs up for emails, send a welcome email thanking them for signing up and helping them get the most from your business. For example, if you have an e-commerce business, your welcome email could tell customers to check out the “flash sale” section of your site where new products go on sale every Friday at noon.

 

     Related Content: The Importance of Timing Your Promotions

 

2. Go beyond birthdays. How about sending emails on your customers’ anniversaries (either their own wedding anniversaries or the day they began doing business with you)? Or build loyalty with offers on relevant holidays. For example, a Pilates studio could send customers emails in April encouraging them to get in shape for summer with a special “unlimited visits” offer in May.

 

3. Send relevant emails. Some 86 percent of consumers say email personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions. Segment email subscribers based on factors such as previous purchases, pages they visited on your website, how frequently or recently they buy from you. The more targeted your emails, the more effective they’ll be. (After all, you want customers to stay “loyal” to your email list, too.)

 

4. Integrate email with direct mail. Using both channels can result in a 35 percent lift in sales compared to using just one or the other. Try using direct mail to emphasize a marketing message, surprise the customer, or deliver a special offer (like that birthday greeting). Make sure your direct mail piece reflects the same branding, look and feel as your email messages.

 

5. Ask their opinions. Don’t overload customers with a survey every time they make a purchase. Do periodically email targeted surveys to your best customers. Because they have a vested interest in your business, they’re more likely to respond. Let them know they’re receiving this survey because you value their opinion as loyal customers. You can also offer a reward for completing the survey, such as loyalty points or a discount on their next purchase.

 

     Related Content: 9 Ways to Discover What Your Customers Really Think of Your Business

 

6. Treat them like VIPs. Does it bother you when a company you patronize regularly offers special deals … but only for first-time customers? Don’t neglect your loyal customers when it comes to special treatment. Offering early access to a sale or to new products or services will inspire many recipients to open and act on your email.

 

     Related Content: The Small Business Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs

 

7. Keep them engaged in your loyalty program. If you have a customer loyalty program, use email to communicate with members about their status in the program, any special offers or events for members, or upcoming expiration dates for their points or rewards. Feature products you know they’ll be interested in or rewards that they have enough points to redeem.

 

Crafting emails for your loyal customers as carefully as you do for your new ones, helps you maintain their loyal fan status.

 

      Related Content: The Surprising Impact of Email Marketing and how to Maximize its Effect

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Who are “Affluencers” and why should small business owners care? The most recent Ipsos Affluent Survey has identified a subgroup of affluent consumers who have outsized influence on others’ purchasing decisions.

 

Dubbed Affluencers (a combination of affluent and influencer), these consumers have huge potential to positively affect how others perceive your brand.

 

Let’s learn who the Affluencers are, what purchases they influence, and how a small business can influence them.

 

Who are the Affluencers?

  • Ipsos defines “affluent” consumers as adults with $125,000+ in annual household income (the top 16 percent of American households).

  • The median age of affluents is 46 and their median household income is $178,200.

  • A whopping 71 percent of affluent consumers are Affluencers.

  • Younger people are more likely to be affluencers: 81 percent of millennial affluents, 70 percent of Generation X affluents, 64 percent of baby boomer affluents and 57 percent of senior affluents are Affluencers.

  • The face of affluent consumers is increasingly diverse. More than one-fourth of affluents are nonwhite; 17 percent speak another language at home; and 6 percent identify as LGBT.

 

What do Affluencers influence?

Affluent consumers have long driven trends in luxury and high-end products, but the influence of Affluencers goes beyond luxury to be felt in nearly every category. They spend more than non-affluent consumers and affluent consumers impact the following areas:

  • Alcoholic beverages

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  • Art and collectibles
  • Vehicles
  • Boating
  • Children's apparel/accessories
  • Computers, electronics and home entertainment
  • Home decorating/remodeling
  • Leisure/entertainment/dining out
  • Men's apparel and accessories
  • Insurance
  • Personal care and wellness
  • Skincare, cosmetics and fragrance
  • Sports/athletic equipment
  • Travel
  • Watches and jewelry
  • Women's apparel and accessories

 

Why are Affluencers so influential?

Affluencers wield influence because:

  • They make a disproportionate amount of purchases.
  • They’re trendsetters. Affluencers are early adopters of everything, from technology and fitness trends to restaurants and obscure travel destinations.
  • They’re a source of advice for friends and family considering purchases. Nearly all Affluencers (97) say people “often” ask them for purchasing advice, and half influence others’ shopping and purchasing behavior in five or more categories.

 

How can you influence the Affluencers?

Affluencers are a powerful target market for businesses to leverage, Ipsos notes. Seven in 10 U.S. marketers say influencer marketing budgets will increase in 2018, and 89 percent of survey respondents believe influencer marketing can positively impact how people feel about a brand.

 

Influencer marketing pays off. On average, businesses generate $6.50 in revenue for each $1 spent on influencer marketing, Business2Community reports.

So how can you reach Affluencers? Think media. The average Affluencer consumes far more media than non-affluents or affluents—their readership of both print and digital publications increased over 9 percent from the prior survey.

 

What’s surprising is the strong reach of traditional media for the Affluencers. TV is their No. 1 media source, followed by the web, mobile apps, printed magazines/newspapers, social media, traditional radio, digital magazines/newspapers, and podcasts. For comparison, 97 percent watch TV, 77percent listen to radio, 72 percent use social media, 48 percent read digital editions and 15 percent listen to podcasts.

 

In addition, 26 percent of Affluencers “like” brands/products on social media, primarily because:

  • It’s something they want to buy soon or already use
  • It’s something they want updates/information about

 

Tips to influence the Affluencers:

  • Reach out to Affluencers via the media they prefer. This will differ based on what you’re selling and your target Affluencer niche (technology vs. travel, boomers vs. millennials).
  • Share useful information that helps them assess a possible purchase. Affluencers do a lot of research before buying.
  • Appeal to their desires to be “the first” to have the coolest, newest thing.
  • Once they’ve purchased from you, maintain an ongoing relationship and collect as much data as you can.
  • Harness their power as referral sources to get new customers.
  • Enlist them to help promote your brand with online reviews or social media mentions.

 

Want to dig deeper into data on the Affluencers? Check out the full presentation.

 

Related Content: The Dos and Don’ts of Connecting with Influencers Online

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Summer is the season for family vacations, backyard barbecues and days at the beach. For a small business, it can also be a profitable season. With summer underway, how is your business doing at capturing customers’ summer dollars? Here are some creative midsummer marketing ideas to boost your business’s sales.

 

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  • On a scorching hot day, attract passersby into your business by promoting your air conditioning. Put up a sign saying, “Come in and cool off!”
  • Give away ice-cold lemonade or bottled water outside your business, along with a coupon for 10

 

Get Outdoors

  • Have a company picnic for your customers at a local park, lake or beach.
  • Put up a tent in the parking lot; grill hot dogs and hamburgers and scoop ice cream for customers.
  • Have employees wear sandwich boards, twirl signs or hand out coupons on busy street corners.

 

Hit the Road

  • Choose a tradeshow or conference relevant to your business. Make it a mini-vacation by building in a bit of sightseeing before or after the event.
  • Take a road trip to visit key clients. Many B2B companies’ schedules slow down in the summer, so your customers will be less frazzled and your meetings more productive.

 

Team Up

  • Get together with your Chamber of Commerce or other local business owners to plan a sidewalk sale you can all participate in. Put tables outside the stores selling small items, and keep your door open to attract customers inside.
  • Put together a monthly “First Fridays” or “Second Saturdays” event featuring musicians, face painting, and refreshments in your business district to attract customers one evening a month.

 

Join the Crowd

  • Find a local community event your target customers attend, like a fun run, classic car show or music festival. Sell products at a booth there or give away free samples, along with a coupon to get recipients into your business later.
  • If you don’t have the bandwidth to have a physical presence at the event, become a sponsor to get your businesses’ name in front of the crowds.
  • Farmers markets are especially popular in the summertime, and can be a great place to sell products or promote your services to locals.

 

Be a Good Sport

  • Take your best customers out to a baseball game, surf competition, volleyball tournament or whatever summer sport is hot in your area.
  • Put on a golf or tennis tournament for clients at the local links or country club.

 

Get Social

  • Get customers to engage with your business on social media. Have employees share their vacation photos and ask customers to do the same.
  • Give away company T-shirts or baseball caps with your logo and offer a prize for the customer who posts a picture of them wearing it in the most exotic vacation locale.
  • Hold a contest or drawing to give away summer-related products or services, like beach toys from your toy store or a summer spruce up at your hair salon.

 

Share Summer Content

  • Summer-ize your content marketing with seasonal information relevant to your customers. That could be serious stuff like pool safety tips for children, or fun stuff like 10 top nail polish colors for summer pedicures.

 

Heat Up Your Promo Products

  • Invest in fun summer promotional products, like beach towels, sunglasses, Koozies®, coolers or beach balls.
  • At an outdoor event, give away promo products to cool customers down, like fans, visors or spray bottles with your logo.

 

Help Customers Enjoy the Summer

  • If you own a service business, put together packages that help your customers get the most out of summer. An auto repair shop could offer a “pre-road trip inspection” special to get cars vacation-ready. A yoga studio could hold special “Mommy and me” classes.

 

Summer is short. Don’t waste your chance to make the most of this special season.

 

Related Content:

8 Stops to Prepare Your Business for Summer Tourists

5 Simple Steps for Giving Your Team Time Off This Summer

Top Hacks to Make your Store Profit from Summer Tourists

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Since the first photo with the hashtag #selfie posted to Instagram in 2011, selfies have taken over the world.

 

According to one survey, 30 percent of photos taken by people between ages 18 and 24 are selfies. Why not celebrate—and market your business at the same time—by launching a grassroots social media selfie campaign for National Selfie Day on June 21?

 

For a small business owner, sharing selfies can be a way of promoting your business’s authenticity. Showing customers and prospective customers the faces behind the business demonstrates you’re not a faceless corporation—you’re a real person.

 

Social Selfie Suggestions

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A social media selfie campaign works best if you have a lot of customers on Facebook or Instagram, the two social platforms where selfies are popular. You can either focus on the platform where your target customers spend the most time, or create one campaign for each platform.

 

Have a specific goal in mind for your National Selfie Day campaign. Do you want to build awareness of a new product or service? Do you want to get people to visit your location? Do you want to promote a sale and spark purchases? Set a measurable goal and figure out how National Selfie Day can help you reach it.

 

    Related Content: The Social Media Time Suck: How to Pick Your Platforms

 

You don’t need a physical location to market National Selfie Day, but if you do have one, make it “selfie-worthy.” Paint a wall inside your store, restaurant, salon, etc. with a backdrop that inspires customers to take selfies. Set up a selfie station: If you own a toy store, paint a wall with a circus theme and put out props like clown noses, crazy wigs or top hats for kids to pose in. Want to really go crazy? Make your entire location selfie-worthy (look up images of the Museum of Ice Cream for inspiration).

 

To promote your social campaign, create your own hashtag and make sure customers use it (along with #NationalSelfieDay) when submitting selfies. This way, their selfies show up not only on their Facebook or Instagram pages, but also on yours.

 

Here are some ideas:

  • Ask customers to post a selfie holding/wearing/using something they bought from your business.
  • National Selfie Day falls on the first day of summer, so ask for selfies doing something summery, like grilling, sunning or camping.
  • Do you own a hair salon or other beauty business? Ask customers to post a selfie showing why they need a new haircut or a makeover.
  • Own a bar or restaurant? Ask customers to post selfies digging into their favorite menu item or toasting with their favorite beverage.

 

Related Content: The Small Business Owner's Guide to Social Media

 

What's My Motivation?

 

Some customers will post selfies just for the fun of it, but others need incentive. Here are some rewards to offer:

  • Something free: If hair salon clients post selfies of their new ‘do, give them a free sample-size hair-care product. If diners post selfies eating at your restaurant, provide a free appetizer.
  • Contest prize: Contests can exponentially increase your selfie campaign’s reach. Ask your social media followers to vote for the winner, and watch the entrants spread the word to their friends in an attempt to win. Make the contest prize something that gets the winner back to your business, like a $100 store gift card, a day of pampering at your spa, or a catered event from your restaurant.
  • Giving to a cause: Tie your social selfie campaign into a charitable cause that your business supports. Own a pet grooming business? Ask for selfies of people with their pups and donate $1 per selfie to an organization that helps abused animals.

 

     Related Content: A First Step for Small Businesses Wanting to Support a Social Cause

 

For more ideas for using selfies in your marketing, search for posts with the hashtags #selfie or #NationalSelfieDay, or search for “selfie booth” or “selfie station” online. With a bit of creativity, you can make your National Selfie Day social media campaign a success—and get to know your customers a little better in the bargain.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Has your business’s social media presence become ho-hum?  Are you fresh out of ideas for creative photos or inspiring images? Then try going live with a digital event.

 

There are a wide variety of online events you can take part in, from Tweet Chats (or Twitter Chats) to Facebook Live or Instagram Live streaming videos. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of digital events for a small business, give you an overview of digital event options, and share some ideas for digital events you can host.

 

What are Digital Events?

 

A digital event is any online broadcast usually on social media—that takes place live. Among the most popular formats are Facebook Live videos, Twitter live videos and Instagram live videos.  You can also participate in or host Tweet Chats or Reddit forums, which are real-time online chats on a specific topic.

Live digital events are becoming more and more popular. According to TechCrunch, one-fifth of videos shared on Facebook are now live.

 

Why Should a Business Participate in Digital Events?66061204_s.jpg

 

Live digital events have many benefits for a small business. Like all kinds of social media marketing, they help promote products or services, build awareness of your business and gain a reputation for thought leadership. However, a live digital event has unique advantages:

 

  • It can generate a sense of excitement and anticipation
  • It helps to foster a community with your customers and followers
  • It enables real-time interaction with customers
  • It offers a sense of authenticity because it’s live
  • You get instant responses and feedback from viewers

 

Ideas for Digital Events

 

A Tweet Chat or Reddit forum is essentially a Q&A session. For example, you could invite an industry expert to answer questions, or answer questions yourself about your business, product or service. You’ll need a moderator for the event to field questions and manage the flow of interactions (if you’re the one answering the questions, you won’t be able to pay attention to incoming questions at the same time).

 

Here are some ideas for live videos:

 

  • Go behind the scenes at your business. Give viewers a tour of your brewery or introduce them to your team.
  • Hold a demonstration showing viewers how to use one of your products.
  • Interview an industry expert on a topic of interest to your customers.
  • Live stream an event at your business, like a grand opening for a new location or a fundraiser for a local charity.
  • Live stream an event, conference or tradeshow you’re attending. If you’re speaking at an event or moderating a panel, live stream it.
  • Promote a sale at your business. Take viewers through your store showing off the hottest selling items or biggest promotional discounts.

 

Tips for Digital Event Success

 

  • Promote your event in advance. Use email marketing, social media and your business website to spread the word and create anticipation.
  • Create a hashtag for your event so people can find it. If you’re hosting a Tweet Chat, you’ll need a unique hashtag to tweet or respond to tweets in the chat.
  • Plan ahead. Your event is live, but don’t try to wing it. Facebook recommends Facebook Live videos be a minimum of 10 minutes long—a long time to talk if you don’t have some idea what you’re going to say. Plan a few topics to bring up or questions to get the ball rolling.
  • Create a series. For example, hold a Tweet Chat with an industry expert once a month, or live stream a demo of the best-selling products from your store every week. (If you plan to do a series, remind viewers at the end of your video to “follow” you for notifications of future live videos.)
  • Engage with viewers. Digital events let you can see exactly how customers are responding in real time. Learn from their questions and comments, and ask some questions of your own.

 

Once your digital event is over, assess its success, (measure participation, use of hashtags, etc.) and use what you learned to make your next digital event even more effective.

 

Related Content:

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Online reviews have become a guiding force in how consumers and B2B buyers alike decide where to buy. A whopping 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and consumers spend an average of 31 percent more with companies that have excellent online reviews.

 

The number of online reviews your business has even factors into your business’s search engine results position on Google. With so much importance attached to reviews, how can you get more good ones? Here are some tips for boosting your star rating—and for dealing with negative reviews.

 

Do’s and Don’ts to Get More Good Reviews

  • Do provide great service. Yes, it’s obvious, but too often forgotten: The only sustainable way to get more positive reviews is to offer outstanding products and services.
  • Don’t bribe customers for reviews. Incentivizing reviews by offering a discount or reward in return violates many review sites’ terms of service, including Yelp’s. (Check the terms of service on each review site to be sure what their rules are.) 26497034_s.jpg
  • Do ask customers to review your business. The best way to do that is in person. When you know a customer is happy with your business, say something like, “We'd love it if you’d review us on Yelp.” Here are some other ideas to encourage reviews:
      • If you have a brick-and-mortar location, post signage indicating which review site/s you’re on.
      • Print “Review us on [SITE]” on your receipts or invoices.
      • Include requests for reviews in your email newsletters and other email marketing materials.
      • Link to your review listing at the end of your email signature.
  • Don’t assume you’re “done.” Consumers read an average of seven reviews before they feel confident trusting a business. That doesn’t mean you can get seven reviews and then stop. Keep a steady stream of new reviews coming to keep your listing fresh.
  • Do make it easy for customers to review your business. Don’t make customers search all over the internet for your review listings. Start by directing them to your review site of choice, whether that’s HomeAdvisor, Yelp or Google.  (Of course, you want reviews on more than one site, but if you have 50 reviews on Yelp and only two on Google, you’ll want to focus on Google reviews for a while.) Put clickable icons on your website and in any digital communication with customers, so all they have to do is click to go directly to your review listing and start writing.

 

Handling Negative Reviews: Do’s and Don’ts

There’s good and bad news about negative online reviews.

  • The bad news: Consumers are 21 percent more likely to leave a review after a negative experience than a positive one.
  • The good news: A few negative reviews can actually make customers trust your reviews more. If a business has no negative reviews, 95 percent of consumers suspect the good reviews are fake or the bad ones have been censored.

 

Consumers have become more sophisticated about reviews, and most can recognize when a reviewer is being irrational. It’s the negative reviews founded in reality that give you a chance to learn from criticism and improve your business.

 

Here's how to deal with bad reviews:

  • Don't ignore them. Reply to a negative review as soon you see it. Reputation management software for small businesses can help you monitor and manage reviews.

  • Do be understanding. Express empathy for the customer’s unhappiness.

  • Don’t discuss it in public. Ask the customer to contact you privately to discuss their concerns. It’s best to talk by phone or in person, as texts and emails are subject to misinterpretation.

  • Do share the happy solution. Once you resolve the matter, ask the customer if they’d be willing to add an update to their original review.

 

Most customers who complain simply want to be heard. Listen, respond, and who knows? You could turn that negative reviewer into a raving fan of your business.

 

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

This series explores some of the most common and difficult challenges faced by small business owners. Part 1 explored how to effectively manage cash flow, and Part 2 laid out steps to find and retain employees.

 

Marketing has always been a challenge for small business owners, but in the “olden days,” marketing methods such as print ads, direct mail and public relations stayed fairly stable. Digital marketing changes constantly, and with so many options for marketing online, many entrepreneurs are overwhelmed.

If this is you, take a deep breath, keep reading, and incorporate these online marketing “essentials” into your marketing plan.

 

Build a Website

It's hard to believe, but as recently as 2017, 29 percent of small businesses did not have a website. If you’re one of them, get moving! There are many providers that offer one-stop services including everything from registering your website domain name and hosting your site to designing, building and maintaining it.

Do you already have a website? Great! Now, make sure it’s:35338495_s.jpg

    • Mobile optimized. The percentage of online searches on mobile devices surpassed the number of searches on desktops back in in 2016, and by 2021, the number of mobile search users is expected to grow to 221 million people.  Make sure your site looks great and works great on all types of smartphones and tablets—not just on computers.
    • Fast. Your customers are impatient folks, and speed is especially important on mobile devices. According to data from DoubleClick, 53 percent of mobile website visits are abandoned because it takes longer than three seconds for the site to load.
    • Optimized for search. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps your website appear higher in search results. You can optimize your website for search by researching keywords that prospects are likely to use when searching for your business. Use those keywords throughout the site in text, headlines, product descriptions and “tags” on images and pages.

 

Get the Local Edge

If your business relies on local customers, use these local digital marketing strategies to get more business.

    • Get listed in local search directories.BrightLocal reports 97 percent of consumers searched online for local businesses last year. Google My Business is the most important local search directory (since more than 59 percent of all online searches start on Google), but there are many others, such as Bing, Local.com, Citysearch and Yellow Pages. It’s free to get listed, and having a presence in online directories makes a huge difference in whether prospects find you when they search online.
    • Take advantage of online reviews. Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth. According to BrightLocal, 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. Get listed on review sites such as Yelp or Angie's List. Then monitor reviews and quickly respond to any critical ones.
    • Related content: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

Social Presence

Whether you own a B2B or B2C business, whether you sell products or services, and especially if your target customers who are millennials or younger, you need a presence on social media. More than half of small businesses say social media is somewhat or very important to attracting new customers, communicating with existing customers, and marketing to both new and existing customers.

 

Use social media posts to drive customers to take action, such as visiting your website, filling out a form or making a purchase. Want to get attention? According to HubSpot, photos and videos are over 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than text-based content.

 

Related Articles: Social Media Primer: When to Post, How Often and What About, Is Your Website Driving Millennials Away? Here are 6 Warning Signs

 

Don’t Forget About…

Email marketing has a median return on investment (ROI )of 122 percent—more than four times the ROI of social media, direct mail or paid search, according to DMA and Demand Metric. Use email to send special offers, newsletters, or updates about your business. Make sure your emails are optimized for mobile devices. If they aren’t, over 80 percent of recipients will delete them.

 

Get Help

Digital marketing is a huge landscape, and I’ve only touched on the basics here. The good news is, there are plenty of places to get expert help with everything from website design to email marketing and local search listings – with plenty of digital tips right here on the Bank of America Small Business Community.

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

A trend born of the Great Recession is having a huge effect on retailers—nearly a decade later.

 

“Consumers don’t want to acquire more stuff—they want to do more stuff,” says Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst at NPD Group. Consumer spending is shifting from purchasing products to spending on experiences, such as vacationing, eating out or attending concerts.

 

To compete, NPD Group advises, retailers need to create a more exciting shopping experience. Younger shoppers, in particular, seek “experiences” as part of their shopping journeys.

 

How can you improve the experience factor of your store? Here are six ideas.

1. Tune in. Music not only soothes the savage beast; it also gets customers—particularly Gen Z’ers—to spend more time in your store. In fact, according to a report by Fitch, Gen Z considers music an essential sign a store is open. Without music, your store won’t get their attention. But Gen Z consumers aren’t the only people who prefer to listen while they shop: A whopping 84 percent of respondents in The State of Brick & Mortar: 2017 survey say music makes shopping more enjoyable, while 54 percent say they’re more likely to recommend stores that play music to their friends and family.

Learn more about Gen Z: Your Consumer is Changing Again: What You Need to Know About Marketing to Gen Z

 

2. Be touchy. According to Fitch, holding and feeling products before they buy is a key part of the purchasing process for Gen Z shoppers. If you sell consumer electronics, put out floor models for customers to play with. Do you sell cosmetics or gourmet food?  Have plenty of testers and samples on hand. If you sell apparel, accessories or home decor, create lush displays that tempt shoppers to reach out and touch. 54519930_s.jpg

 

3. Get social. Creating and sharing memories is more important to today’s consumers than buying products, according to NPD Group—so make your store a place where it’s easy for shoppers to share their experiences. For example, an Instagram-worthy window display can attract crowds to take selfies. Encourage and incentivize shoppers to take those selfies and tag your business in social media posts; then pick a winner every week and give them a gift card.

 

4. Mix it up. Technology has made shoppers’ attention spans shorter than ever. Just as they expect an ever-changing stream of social media content, younger shoppers expect new stimuli from stores, according to the 10 Trends Millennial Retail report from Kelton. Stop your store from being boring by frequently changing your window displays, moving merchandise around or adding seasonal decor. You can even experiment with “pop-up” stores at other locations.

 

5. Think local. Millennials in the Kelton study would much rather support small, independent local retailers than big chains. Play up your status as a local small business by getting involved in “buy local” initiatives and events in your community. Embrace the local community in your store, too. For example, you could hold a monthly in-store concert where a local band performs while shoppers enjoy a discount. Display local artists’ or photographers’ work on your walls and swap it out every month. (You can even sell the artwork and take a percentage of the price as commission.)

Take your local focus one step further: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

 

6. Get personal. Offer a personal touch by providing friendly guidance to help shoppers make decisions. Have salespeople bring customers accessories to complete an outfit while they’re trying it on, for instance. Start a loyalty program so you can record customers’ purchasing behavior and preferences. This enables you to customize your marketing messages for their specific interests, delivering a more personal experience.

Your Full Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs: The Small Business Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs

 

These 6 ideas will help bring in more traffic and ensure that you’ve optimized your customer’s experience in your store.

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Have you made a New Year’s resolution to take your marketing efforts up a notch? Good for you. Here are seven changes guaranteed to give you better results in 2018.

 

1. Update your website. Has it been a few years since you revamped your website? Is time on site declining or are conversions dropping? If your website’s not doing what you want it to do, it’s time for an upgrade. Since mobile devices now account for 51.3 percent of internet use, your website needs to be designed with a “mobile-first” approach in order to make the sale. If you’re not a website expert yourself, enlist the help of a pro—this is one area where you shouldn’t skimp.

          Related article: Is Your Website Driving Millennials Away? Here are 6 Warning Signs

 

2. Improve your website SEO. The keywords that got traffic last year (or last month) may not work today. Regularly research to see which keywords your target customers use when they look for businesses like yours. Then incorporate those keywords into your website text, meta descriptions, tags and page titles. As voice search tools like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa become more popular, voice search is predicted to soar in the next few years. Get ahead by incorporating natural, spoken-word keyword phrases. Like website design, SEO is another task best handled by an expert. While this will cost you some money, it will save you tons of time.55171740_s.jpg

 

3. Improve your local SEO. If consumers are not finding your local business, a few small tweaks to your local SEO can help. List your business on as many local search directories as you can, including Google My Business, Yelp and any industry-specific or regional directories your customers are likely to use. Be sure your business name, address and phone number (NAP) are listed exactly the same on each directory. Add detailed information to complete your profile on search directories. Finally, update your profile regularly to include new information such as special hours or upcoming promotions—this will help boost your local SEO, too.

Related article: Why Local SEO Matters More Than Ever (and 4 Steps to Success)

 

4. Maximize the power of online reviews. A whopping 97 percent of consumers read online reviews for local businesses this year, and 85 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. Harness the power of your online reviews by actively monitoring them, responding to them, and encouraging customers to leave reviews. Don’t offer rewards for reviews; instead, let customers know which review sites you’re on and make it easy for them to find you.

Related article: 9 Ways to Discover What Your Customers Really Think of Your Business

 

 

5. Create strong calls to action. Whether it’s a pay-per-click ad, a print ad, or the homepage of your business website, always direct your prospects with a clear call to action. Every marketing piece you create (including every page of your website) should tell customers exactly what you want them to do: “Shop now,” “Call for a consultation today,” or “Sign up.”

 

6. Fine-tune your email marketing efforts. Email is still one of the most effective marketing techniques around—not to mention having great ROI. In 2018, use your email marketing service’s analytics to really focus on what works and what doesn’t. Use A/B testing to discover the most effective offers, subject lines and cadence for your emails. And don’t forget to keep growing that email list.

Related article: The Surprising Impact of Email Marketing and how to Maximize its Effect

 

7. Spring for social media advertising. If you’ve been marketing with social media for a while, you know it’s gotten harder to get noticed organically. To maintain your social profile, you’ll need to invest in social media advertising. (With 79 percent of adult internet users on Facebook and 76 percent of those using it daily, you can’t afford not to.) An easy way to get started: use Promoted Posts on Facebook or Instagram to “boost” your most popular posts.

Related article: The Top Social Media Sites You Should Consider for Advertising

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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